Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Artist Profile in Bead & Button Magazine

If you've seen the August 2015 issue of Bead & Button Magazine, you might have noticed a cameo appearance of a Magic O Ball beaded bead on the cover.

Well, that's because I'm featured in this issue's Artist Profile on pages 46-47. It's an honor and it was a pleasure to be interviewed about my work and my artistic and scientific journey. (Though, it's rather surreal to read about myself from a third person point of view!)

I'm doubly honored that the Bead & Button editors found my own photos of my work fit to print. Generally, I try to optimize my photos for web viewing, so I was pleased that they turned out well in print too. They chose several of my geometric designs, such as the above Fiberoptic Dodecahedron beaded beads, and several of my chemical designs too.

I've gotten a couple of questions about the beaded chemical structures featured in this article, so I'd like to do a quick summary of them here. The golden necklace shown below features the chemical structures of the Serotonin and Dopamine molecules, which are neurotransmitters (i.e. chemicals that work with neurons) that have a couple of functions in your brain. Serotonin contributes to feelings of happiness and dopamine contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.

This necklace uses seed beads, jump rings, and a simple clasp, and the technique used to create it is a variation on Gwen and Florence's Infinity Weave. The advantage of this technique is that it results in flat but supported beaded structures, which are perfect for serotonin and dopamine because these molecules are mostly flat in real life. The beading pattern and kits for this piece are available on my website.

The endorphins are also neurotransmitters, and they're also feel-good molecules. Unlike serotonin and dopamine, endorphins are a type of protein and they're significantly larger and have much more dimensionality, though they're still on the small side as far as proteins are concerned. There are a couple of different types of endorphins, and the specific structure shown in the magazine is the necklace-length alpha-endorphin.

I created this piece with crystals, bugle beads, and seed beads to accurately reflect not only the atoms in an alpha-endorphin molecule, but also the different types of bonds and its dimensionality as well. I entered this piece into the 2013 Bead Dreams competition (where it made the finals!)

The technique behind this piece uses a combination of specific, redundant thread paths and thread tension to mimic the 3D structure of the molecule. While I've applied this technique to other 3D molecular structures, I've yet to come up with the best way of explaining how to create the Endorphin Necklace. I like using a detailed, step-by-step writing approach for my beading patterns, however this isn't a feasible approach for a piece as complex as the Endorphin Necklace as such a pattern would be hundreds of pages long. A more streamlined method of explaining the technique may work, but it would be best-explained in the context of a collection of beaded molecules. Either way, it's something that I will have to carefully consider in the future.

In the meantime, if you'd like to learn more about this technique, I have written a pattern for the smaller ethanol molecule, which is the molecule of interest in alcoholic beverages. I paired them with a variety of fruit charms for a pair of earrings that can be made to match your favorite cocktail. The pattern and kits for the Cocktail Hour Earrings are available on my website.

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

2015 Toho Challenge Necklace

This year I was invited to participate in the 2015 TOHO Challenge, a beading challenge put on by the Japanese seed bead manufacturer TOHO Beads. Each participant was given the same set of Japanese seed beads and Czech beads to create a finished piece of beadwork. We didn't need to use all of the beads in the challenge kit, but we couldn't add any additional beads except for findings and stringing materials (with the option of including one extra focal piece). All the challenge pieces are on display at the 2015 Bead & Button Show, and after that they will travel to Japan where they will be on display for a year.

I was stoked to receive the challenge box because they included colors that I already love and use in my beadwork; gorgeous magentas, bronzes, and rich metallic greens. For the challenge piece itself I wanted to create something representative of my signature style, and I also wanted to play with a relatively unused stitch. I went for a more everyday-wear look rather than anything over-the-top, and I ended up with this simple but elegant necklace.

The round focal uses the geometry of an icosahedron, so it has 30 edges and 20 triangle-shaped sides. The edges are represented by 2-hole tile beads while a collection of magmata and mini dagger beads sit on each side, in a manner similar to that of my Tila Garden Pendant. But unlike the Tila Garden design, this focal is self-supporting without the use of a round core bead, though it did require some extra engineering to keep this beaded ball from being squishy.

Since the focal is hollow, it could be strung on a headpin or through beading wire as a beaded bead, but I instead elected to attach it to a beaded rope.

I wove the rope using twisted cubic right-angle weave (CRAW), using primarily green beads to set off the magenta and bronze beads in the focal. The twisted CRAW technique is a versatile stitch that can make a variety of ropes, bangles, and components, but it seems to intimidate everyone I describe it to. It's actually much more meditative and easier than CRAW once you get the rope started (no, really!), and I'm looking forward to exploring this stitch further. In this piece I wove it in both the right-handed and left-handed directions so that each side of the rope is symmetrical with the other side, and both sides meet in the middle in a novel join. I also had fun incorporating fire polish beads into this beaded rope, which become more prominent closer to the focal of the piece.

The clasp is a little beaded toggle that mimics the triangular shape of one of the sides of the focal. I sometimes elect for a metal clasp over a beaded clasp primarily due to time constraints, especially if it's a piece that I will need to illustrate for a beading pattern. There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to each clasp approach, but for this piece I was able to use a beaded clasp which nicely complements the focal of the necklace.

If you'd like to see the 2015 Toho Challenge pieces in person, please visit the display case near the registration desk at the Bead & Button Show. Keep an eye on the Team Toho page for more images of the challenge pieces as well.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Garden Jewel Necklace in Beadwork Magazine

My third Designer of the Year project for Beadwork Magazine is now available in the June/July 2015 issue.

The Garden Jewel Necklace features a great big Swarovski crystal bezeled with a collection of Miyuki Tila beads, drop beads, and round Japanese seed beads. A beaded spiral rope matches the focal pendant, and several beaded beads reminiscent of the Dewdrop beaded bead design string onto the rope for added texture.

The beaded beads will just fit over the spiral rope, yet they will stay in place once strung, so they can be positioned at different points on the rope for several different looks. In this purple and green version they sit close to the pendant:

And in this silvery purple version they are distributed more evenly throughout the rope:

A limited number of kits for this project are available on my website at beadorigami.com. The pattern for this design is available in the June/July 2015 issue of Beadwork Magazine. Please note that I'll soon be traveling to the 2015 Bead & Button Show, and the last day to order kits for shipment before the show is June 1. Any kits ordered after June 1 will ship on June 9.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bitten by the Silver Bug

I've been bitten by the silver bug...

It started with a pear-shaped Swarovski silver patina crystal that had been sitting around my studio for the past several months. I incorporated it into a Prism Blossoms Pendant, and complemented it with silver half Tila, bugle, triangle, and seed beads.

I used a crystal clear rivoli for the center to keep the emphasis on the silver beads and the flowers. To keep the focus on the silver portions of this piece, I also used a relatively simple complementary color palette of oranges and blues for the Dragon Scale bead flowers.

For my next silver piece, I turned to the Annular O Necklace. This colorway features silver patina rivoli crystals, but these shiny crystals are paired with more muted pewter seed beads. A touch of purple adds color to the necklace.

Finally, I collected a bunch of Tila, half Tila, bugle, and seed beads as well as crystal AB crystals for a Half Tila Technocluster beaded bead. I left the half Tilas clear in an attempt to blend them in with the crystals, and I think I was successful on this point, however the resulting beaded bead does not show the sharp lines that some of the other colorways of this design.

I also experimented with reflective surfaces for this photo, but it didn't quite turn out the way that I would have liked. So the photography of this piece remains a work-in-progress.

Beading patterns for all three of these designs are available at beadorigami.com, and kits for these colorways and more are available as well.

Which do you prefer? Silver, gold, bronze, or another color entirely? Drop me a line in the comments :)

Thanks for looking!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Chrysanthemum Blossoms Necklace in Beadwork Magazine

My second Designer of the Year project for Beadwork Magazine is in the April/May 2015 issue!

The Chrysanthemum Blossoms Necklace features Swarovski rivoli crystals, Miyuki half Tila beads, two different colors of CzechMates two-hole triangles, and a collection of Japanese seed beads all stitched into five beaded blossom-like components. The components are joined together and finished with a matching custom beaded rope for a blooming necklace.

This project even makes an appearance on the magazine cover too:

Another colorway for this project features bronze and gold beads for a very regal look.

A limited number of kits for this project are available on my website at beadorigami.com. The pattern for this design is available in the April/May 2015 issue of Beadwork Magazine.

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Highland Garden Necklace Workshop

I'm very excited to be teaching a new beading class this weekend. This workshop, the Highland Garden Necklace, combines the beauty of beaded flowers with the geometry of dodecahedrons.

Embellished Dodecahedron Beaded Beads

This necklace features six beaded beads woven with six different colors of O beads that make up the petals of very dainty flowers. Additional tiny Japanese seed beads contribute to the fine detail of these beaded beads.

This colorway features pastel-colored O beads for a very soft look:

A Floral Focal

The focal piece of this necklace features slightly larger flowers woven with lentil beads and additional seed beads, in the colors and style to match the beaded beads. I drew on Sakura Charm and Tila Garden Pendant designs to construct this piece; I had been tinkering with the idea of weaving twelve Sakura Charms together for quite a while, but I wasn't able to effectively execute this idea until after the release of the Half Tila bead. Additionally, a number of new colors of lentil beads are now available that have greatly expanded the possible color combinations for this design.

A Geometric Necklace

The beaded beads and pendant are strung in a symmetric arrangement with a simple combination of round beads to complete the necklace. This colorway uses bronze and cranberry hues for a fall-themed take on this beading design.

I'm currently scheduled to teach this class at City Beads in Chicago on April 12 (this weekend!), and at Beaded Bliss in Danville, CA on May 2. Check out their respective websites for information on how to register for this class. I'd love to see you there!

Monday, March 23, 2015

PRAW Webinar Airing Soon!

A quick reminder that my webinar on Prismatic Right-Angle Weave (PRAW) is airing this Tuesday, March 24, at 1 PM EDT.

The webinar is in the style of an academic lecture, and is very much like my beaded bead webinar; you can think of it more as a live TED Talk rather than a Craftsy how-to video, and attendees will have the chance to ask questions at the end of the presentation. Also, anyone who registers for this webinar will receive a tutorial in the PDF format that describes how to make bracelets and simple beaded beads using the PRAW stitch. Here are some examples of those beaded beads and bracelets:

If you can't make it on the 24th, you can still register for this webinar and you can watch it later; anyone who registers will get a link to download a recording of the webinar a couple of days after the live presentation. If you're interested, you can register at the Interweave Store.

If you'd like to learn even more about PRAW and its place into the beading lexicon, Jean Cox wrote a post over at the Inside Beadwork Magazine blog about how this naming convention fits into the context of prism geometry. I must admit that it was really interesting to read this post and learn how the self-described "snooty editors" over at Beadwork Magazine don't often accept new naming conventions, but they like the name PRAW "because it makes so much sense." Check out the post on their blog here.

Thanks for looking!
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